Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 5/14/12
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GLENDALE, Ariz. It was a knife to the gut for every Kings fan who was sure Jonathan Quick had ended their goaltending nightmares and freed them from screaming aloud at the mention of names like Roman Cechmanek, Dan Cloutier and Robb Stauber. Quick yielded a goal from the red line Sunday in the opener of the Western Conference finals, a shocking development on several levels. First, being beaten on an unscreened, 98-foot shot by Phoenix defenseman Derek Morris was uncharacteristic for Quick, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goalie during the season and a postseason MVP candidate. And it allowed the Coyotes to pull even in a game the Kings had been dominating, making it a potential tipping point. Not to worry. Even though Quick was involved in a mix-up with his defensemen on Phoenix's second goal, which tied the score again, he sent the ghosts of the Kings' ghastly goaltending back to their coffins. Quick held firm in the third period, repelling a late push by the Coyotes to secure the 4-2 victory that moved the Kings to within three wins of a berth in the Stanley Cup finals. This performance was far from his finest hour, but his ability to forget his gaffes and not linger on his moments of greatness was crucial for a team that continued to thrive as the playoff pressure ratcheted up higher than the 100-plus-degree desert temperatures outside Jobing.com Arena. "That's one of the things that makes him such a great goaltender," Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "A lot of goalies give up a bad one and as much of a competitor as you might be and you don't want to give up a bad one, you have to be able to get past it. He's got that type of mentality and he's had it the whole time, and tonight was no different." The Kings' second-round opponent, the St. Louis Blues, repeatedly claimed to have found holes in Quick's game, though they never exploited those supposed weaknesses while being swept out of the playoffs. Maybe shooting from the red line was one of those holes. The Kings were leading, 1-0, when defenseman Slava Voynov turned the puck over and Coyotes forward Daymond Langkow controlled it. Langkow fed Morris, who was near the right-wing boards, and the veteran defenseman decided to fling the puck on net instead of doing the expected thing of dumping it in behind the net. Quick said he wasn't surprised. "Just the way he was winding up I knew he was shooting on net," Quick said. "It skipped off the ice, took a weird hop. Nothing you could do about it. Just reset, get ready for the next shot. That's all it is." Teammate Dustin Brown said Quick didn't say much about that miscue during the first intermission. But then again, Brown said, "He makes 25 big saves a game and he doesn't say anything after those. He lets one in that he probably wants back, he just puts his head down and gets back to work." And so he did. Dwight King's rebound of a Mike Richards shot gave the Kings a 2-1 lead at 8:02 of the second period, but miscommunication between Quick, Scuderi and Drew Doughty contributed to the Coyotes' second goal, at 18:05 of the second period. Shane Doan had sent the puck in and Quick went behind the net to stop it instead of moving it along. Coyotes forward Antoine Vermette got between Quick and Doughty, allowing Doan to feed Mikkel Boedker for the equalizer. "We were trying to talk back there. They had a good forecheck but once they send guys like that usually you just keep it going, with pressure," Scuderi said. "We didn't execute that play but at least we didn't let it beat us." Quick wouldn't let them be beaten. Staked to a lead again on Brown's wrister early in the third, he made it hold up. "He played great again. He has every game this postseason," Doughty said. "He made some big saves late that could have made it 3-3. Without him back there we wouldn't have won this one, either." They've won a club-record six straight playoff games and all six they've played on the road this spring, but that's still not enough for Quick. "We've got goals here in this locker room. We're not where we want to be yet," he said. "We know we can be better." His typically calm statement after an atypical game means all is well in the Kings' goaltending world. --Helene Elliott
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